I am writing to express my discomfort with your November 8 editorial, “UTSU AGM 2018: Where’s the spirit of union democracy?” The editorial omits crucial context when describing the events of the UTSU’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) and misrepresents several fundamental aspects of parliamentary procedure and corporate governance.
As the member who raised a point of order to ensure the meeting operated in compliance with the Canada Not-for-profit Corporations Act (CNCA), I was not aiming to counter “the spirit of union democracy,” as implied in the editorial.
In fact, a member of the union attempted to use a quorum call to end the meeting before members could pass a motion with which he disagreed. In short, he attempted to use a procedural loophole to prevent the assembled members from making decisions they were permitted to make under the union’s governing legislation, its corporate bylaws, and its rules of order. Continuing the meeting was not anti-democratic — shutting it down would have been.
The editorial also presented a number of factual inaccuracies.
First, while an AGM of the Scarborough Campus Students’ Union (SCSU) did indeed adjourn in 2015 after losing quorum, that is not a valid procedural precedent for the UTSU’s general meetings. The SCSU is not a federally incorporated not-for-profit corporation and is not governed by the provisions of the CNCA.
Second, there is no question as to whether continuing the meeting without quorum was in order. The speaker correctly ruled that adjourning the meeting would require a motion supported by the majority of members present (rather than a quorum call from a single disaffected member). This ruling was in line with the provisions of the corporation’s governing legislation, corporate bylaws, and rules of order; there has been no serious argument to the contrary, whether at the AGM or after its adjournment.
Third, there is no question as to the validity of the motion to allow members to bring policy and bylaw changes forward at AGMs. The motion was carried by a clear majority of a general meeting of the members. While The Varsity may question the merits of the motion and debate whether passing it was the right decision, it is inappropriate to imply that the motion could in any way be considered invalid.
I hope that The Varsity’s editorial board will hold itself to a higher standard in the future.
Andrew Kidd is a fourth-year Engineering Physics student. He was Speaker of the Engineering Society for the 2017–2018 academic year.